By Eva Vinje Aurdal, Mayor of Ålesund
The city of Ålesund lies on the West Coast of Norway between high mountains and the famous fjords.
Home to approximately 67,000 people, the city of Ålesund is a merge between five former municipalities. The merge was by far the largest in the municipality reform initiated by the Norwegian government, and the five merging municipalities have been working towards a new joint roadmap for the larger city and have set priorities for the work going forward. Early in the process we, the politicians, decided that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were central in building the roadmap for the merge.
The timing was therefore perfect to enter the Implementation Programme of the United for Smart Sustainable Cities Initiative (U4SSC) in partnership with ITU and the Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER). Ålesund and our neighboring municipalities Giske and Sula decided to be the first region in Norway to test the U4SSC Key Performance Indicators for Smart Sustainable Cities, as well as to see how these indicators and the data collected could be concretely used to set targets and decide on priority projects related to becoming both a smart and sustainable city.
This is the result of the city of Ålesund:
The results gave us a very interesting overview of the current situation related to all the 92 indicators where data was collected. Some were familiar, but some were more of a surprise to us.
The results showed us that we score high in health and infrastructure but that we have many specific challenges to address, not least regarding water supply and drainage – a challenge that the municipality has at the top of our agenda. We also have challenges when it comes to transport; the diversification of transport infrastructure and low use of public transport. The potential for improving this field of the report is large, as many inhabitants are walking, and the networks of cycle paths are good. Another advantage is that the region has a good ICT infrastructure that is a good foundation and potential for a smart and sustainable development of Ålesund.
The municipality of Ålesund is in the process of developing a strategy for how the municipality will work systematically with surveys within each area. We also look forward to learning from other municipalities that have conducted analyses with the U4SSC Key Performance Indicators, and to cooperate to find the best solutions.
In addition to giving us interesting data and a new way of looking at facts related to our city infrastructure, environment, and societal challenges, the analysis gave us a tool to engage with all stakeholders in the city of Ålesund.
The program also challenged us to go further and deep-dive into the areas of how we enhance our cooperation with the academic and private sector in becoming smarter and more sustainable.
We therefore decided to take the next practical next step, which was to establish a new arena for cooperation. Ålesund Future Lab – linked to the U4SSC Implementation Programme – is a Future Smart and Sustainable City Lab, which would support innovative partnerships between all stakeholders in Ålesund, our region and in Norway as a whole. This Lab and its partners are already busy working on projects in many fields related to the KPI-analysis.
Share your city’s story with U4SSC
The United for Smart Sustainable Cities Initiative (U4SSC) is supported by 17 UN bodies with the aim of achieving SDG11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
More than 100 cities worldwide have adopted the U4SSC Key Performance Indicators for Smart Sustainable Cities as part of a collaboration driven by ITU within the framework of the U4SSC initiative.
The indicators enable cities to assess their progress in meeting smart city objectives and assess the alignment of their progress with the SDGs. No two cities are the same, but the U4SSC indicators offer unique value as a common reporting framework – they make a unique contribution to knowledge exchange internationally.
Dubai, Singapore and Moscow led the way in implementing the U4SSC indicators and reporting their associated experiences. Download their reports from the U4SSC publications page.
New U4SSC reports on Ålesund, Bizerte, Krimpen, Pully, Riyadh, and Valencia contribute to a growing body of knowledge on smart city innovation as well as the continued refinement of the U4SSC indicators.
U4SSC prizes learning from experience and sharing lessons learnt.
The new U4SSC Implementation Programme supports the new partnerships driving smart city projects. As the implementation arm of U4SSC, the programme aims to enact the lessons learnt in U4SSC’s work.
Photo by Nicolai Berntsen via Unsplash.